Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Praise pours in for Obama economic team

Words like "brilliant," "sharp," "energetic," and "visionary" are coming from across the political spectrum in praise for President-elect Barack Obama's choices to lead his economic team.

"These are the kind of people you want with their hand on the till in a storm," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. "And we're in a Category 4."

"The right man for Treasury," the New York Post called Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner in a staff editorial.

"Geithner is widely respected as both sharp and energetic," the Post wrote. "Years ago, he warned of the lack of oversight of new security instruments, including some that wound up playing a role in stirring today's financial maelstrom....You couldn't ask for a better background for the job than his."

Praise has also been strong for Larry Summers, Director-designate of the National Economic Council.

"He is as visionary and insightful a thinker on economic affairs as there is in the United States and that's what we need now," Harvard professor of political economy Richard Zeckhauser told the Boston Globe.

Many, including analyists David Brooks, Ruth Marcus, and Fareed Zakaria, describe him simply as "brilliant." Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women, vouched for his commitment to equality.

''[Summers] has written and spoken fairly extensively on the issue of women's wage inequality and the impact that has on the country," she said.

Christina Romer, currently a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley and now Director-designate of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, is widely respected as one of the nation's leading economic minds.

"I have great admiration for Christy Romer as a teacher and scholar," Harvard Economics Professor Gregory Mankiw said. A personal friend to Romer and her husband, Professor David Romer, Mankiw himself led the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003-05.

Of the team as a whole, Mankiw told the Wall Street Journal, "I think the Obama administration has so far put together a very impressive economic team."

Here's what some other sources had to say about the selections:

The Economist:
"Mr Geithner brings two crucial qualities. First, he represents continuity...he is now a familiar face to the most senior executives on Wall Street and to central bankers and finance ministers overseas. Second, he represents competence. He has spent more time on financial crises, from Mexico and Thailand to Brazil and Argentina, than probably any other policymaker in office today."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee:
"I've worked with Tim Geithner. He's young. He's innovative. I believe he will be up to the challenge. He knows a lot about the economy and he knows a lot about problems. He has been involved in the bailout -- I don't think it's worked perfectly -- working with Secretary Paulson, but he is a breath of fresh air, so to speak. I think he will do well. I would try to work with him."

Larry Kudlow, host, CNBC's Kudlow and Company:
"Geithner is generally well regarded on Wall Street in his handling of the banking crisis. He's been the point man for both the Fed's Ben Bernanke and Bush Treasury man Paulson in their various rescue efforts to deal with the ongoing credit crisis....He is highly regarded by those who worked with him as a very smart, sharp, and insightful player. He has developed a strong working knowledge of markets and the economy as a central figure in the dramatic events of the past couple of years."

Brad Setser, fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; former Treasury official who worked briefly for Geithner both there and at the International Monetary Fund:
"I am thrilled that Mr. Geithner looks to be Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary. I am also pleased that President Obama also found a way to pull Dr. [Lawrence] Summers...into the administration. The current, severe crisis will provide plenty of work for both....I hope that the combination of Dr. Summers' intellectual creativity and Mr. Geithner's disciplined analysis and political acumen proves fruitful."

Paul Calello, CEO, Credit Suisse Investment Bank:
"I think Tim [Geithner] is a great choice for the job. He has the intellect, the experience and the ability to work across many constituencies that you need in that job. It's also important to note that Tim has both the domestic and international experience that is going to be very important going forward."

Jim Cramer, host, CNBC's Mad Money:
"I have read everything Summers has written since this crisis began, and it was prescient and constructive and smart as a whip."

National Journal (3/29/08):
"It's hard not to be impressed with their political achievements...Christina and [husband] David Romer...are well-known macroeconomists -- experts on the workings of the U.S. economy -- who jointly hold one of six spots on the academic committee of economists that decides when recessions begin and end."

Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
"President-elect Obama has chosen a strong, experienced economic team. Restoring the nation's economic health must be our top priority and the Chamber stands ready to work with the new administration to spur growth and job creation. This team brings a wealth of knowledge to Washington and an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector. Tim Geithner has a deep understanding of our capital markets and the experience and credibility to tackle our nation's biggest challenge -- restoring our economy and rebuilding our financial markets. He has been directly engaged in all the steps taken so far to address this unprecedented crisis and is well qualified to lead the Treasury Department. Larry Summers' knowledge of economic issues and past experience as Treasury secretary will serve President Obama well. Likewise, Christina Romer and Melody Barnes will bring an understanding that any sustainable economic recovery will involve the business sector."

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